China says US revoking of China apps ban a 'positive step'

BEIJING (AP) - China's Department of Commerce said Thursday that a US move to lift Trump administration's executive regulations banning apps like TikTok and WeChat was a "positive move" amid tense relations between the two countries.
"We hope that the US will treat Chinese companies fairly and avoid politicizing economic and trade issues," said ministry spokesman Gao Feng at a regular press conference on Thursday.
Gao said the US move to overturn previous government measures against apps like TikTok and WeChat is a "positive step in the right direction".
The White House on Wednesday revoked some blanket orders from former President Donald Trump against Chinese apps, including the WeChat messenger app, the TikTok short video app and the Alipay payment app. A new ordinance from President Joe Biden says the US will conduct “evidence-based” analysis of transactions with apps created, provided or controlled by China.
China's Foreign Ministry affirmed at a daily press conference that China would continue to defend its interests. It called on the US to "stop generalizing the concept of national security and abuse state power to suppress Chinese technology companies."
Courts blocked the Trump administration's efforts to ban TikTok and WeChat last year, but the United States Foreign Investment Committee (CFIUS) is still conducting a national security review of TikTok.
The stance of the Biden government reflects concerns that popular apps related to China could divulge users' personal data if the ruling Communist Party presses companies to divulge data.
The government said in February that it is replacing Trump's approach with a more focused strategy. Whether TikTok and other apps pose a threat to Americans has not yet been considered.
A senior administration official said Wednesday that Trump's actions "have not always been carried out in the most sensible way." The aim of the review is to set clear criteria for assessing specific data security and privacy risks for each app, he said.
This could lead to a number of potential future actions on an app-by-app basis.
"We want to take a tailored, tough approach here," he said.
CFIUS had set TikTok deadlines to divest its US operations, but no such sale took place.
Last week, the Biden administration expanded a list of Trump-era blacklisted Chinese companies that allegedly have ties to the Chinese military and surveillance. American companies and individuals cannot invest in these companies, including telecommunications equipment maker Huawei and Chinese oil giant China National Offshore Oil Corp.
Chinese officials and companies have denied that their products and services pose a security threat.
Relations between Beijing and Washington remain strained as each side has imposed sanctions, including tariffs on the other's exports.
China's lawmakers on Thursday passed a law establishing the legal basis for retaliation against foreign sanctions in matters such as Hong Kong and the northwestern Xinjiang region, which accuse China of restricting freedoms and committing human rights abuses. The Anti-Sanctions Law allows China to refuse visas, refuse entry, revoke visas and deport those responsible for formulating and enforcing sanctions, as well as confiscating their property within China and allowing financial transactions and other interactions with them to forbid.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the law aims to "resolutely protect national sovereignty, dignity and core interests and to oppose Western hegemonism and power politics." and "to provide the country with legal support and guarantees to counter discriminatory measures by a foreign country in accordance with the law".
Wang countered Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's calls for more attention to China's growing military power, accusing Washington of "playing the China card" as a pretext for increasing US military spending and trying to "contain China."
He also protested Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's reference to Taiwan as a country during a parliamentary debate on Wednesday. China regards self-governing island democracy as its own territory and is quick to scold anyone or any company it calls a country.
In answering a question about pandemic measures, Suga casually referred to Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia, then referred to them as "three countries".
Wang said the comment violated Japan's "solemn promise not to consider Taiwan a country."
"We deeply regret the erroneous statements made by Japan and have made serious complaints to Japan, urging Japan to immediately provide clear clarifications to remove the negative effects caused by such statements and to ensure that such situations do not recur," said Wang.
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This story has been corrected to show that the Anti-Sanctions Law contains specific measures to punish those who formulate and implement sanctions against Chinese individuals and organizations.

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